(Joyful Mysteries note: our guest writer today and I met when I was 7 years old…she had just lost her Dad, and her Mom watched my sister and I after school. It took me years to imagine the impact of what they were going through right then.  But even in their grief they always welcomed us in.  Leah is one of the people I have stayed in touch with over the years, and a lifelong friend.  I equate my childhood and experiences right in line with hers. She taught me how to drive.  She was with me, as I changed my life and met Jesus. She is incredible and I am grateful to her using her words and sharing her real with us.)

Life is                                       !

How do I fill in that great exclamation?  How would others fill in the blank for me?  Am I really living the life I think I am?

Life is precious!

 

Life is a gift!

My precious gift came just before my birthday nearly 13 years ago.  She is my blessing because her coming changed me.  Physically?  You bet!  Emotionally?  You don’t know the depths of a mother’s love until you become one.  Spiritually?  Miracles are all around us, but many times we are blind and cannot see them or deaf and do not hear them.  Intellectually?  Studying philosophy, technology, art and architecture, and theology cannot replace the simplest lessons motherhood brings up.

As a mother you grow an extra layer of everything!  One of protection, love, understanding, trust, and uncertainty to turn to at different occasions.  Uncertainty is the hardest because we let doubt creep in and steal our joy.  Other times that silly bug of comparison slips through and makes us feel unworthy.

My almost teenager has always taught me resilience and flexibility.  She is amazing because she can laugh (even at herself!) in the face of adversity and press forward.

Today and every day we ought to do the same move on, find something good, share a smile, and hope that others see by our actions how we fill in our EXCLAMATION about Life.

Life is…whatever you choose it to be daily!


 

Laying someone to rest is an action, yet emotionally and psychologically it takes distinct and concerted effort to “let go”.  As an eight year old who lost her dad to cancer that “he’s really gone” moment came while doing a simple chore.  It was my turn to set the table for dinner one evening and I grabbed six of everything from the silverware drawer.  My stomach wrenched in a knot when the physical task brought my brain up to speed and I thought, “we’re only five now”.

So simple, but so necessary to allow ourselves to let go a little at a time.  Each cry, laugh or “weep fest” gets us closer to the freedom of letting go.  Sharing stories of those we love with others who also miss them is crucial.  Storytelling is an essential element to keeping our loved ones’ memories alive.

I get sad sometimes to think that my dad didn’t get to be there with us physically at my First Communion, graduations, wedding or the births of the children, but he was there in a powerful, spiritual way.  Way back in 1986 we gained the most dedicated Guardian Angel imaginable.  Believe me!  Some of the accidents my siblings and I have survived and/or avoided are nothing short of miraculous.

Love stronger than we can fathom!  This love is the love we are called to share with every person we come in contact with every day.  It can be extremely difficult to do because we do not always agree with those around us.  There are times when we allow our beliefs to affect the love wee show to others.  I do not mean that we have to change our beliefs, but I do mean we MUST love at all costs.  Sometimes it means keeping quiet when we disagree or simply stating our opinions differ, but our love should never waver.  We can show love and prayers of support without agreeing with every specific detail.  Love prays with a clean, non-judgmental heart for the Holy Spirit to guide where we lack knowledge and understanding.

Often times as we share the “truth” to others we assume there is only one road to get where we are going.  I cannot accept that there are never alternate ways to get to the same destination.  In living our truth are we shoving others over the edge of doubt?  When all they may need is a smile or a hand to hold reassuring them that they will be okay if they keep seeking the direction the Holy Spirit calls them.

Sometimes our actions need to be what speaks louder than our words.  If it is time to speak then I say seek the same Holy Spirit for guidance.

The Holy Spirit guided my truth today. By helping me share previous pain that has taught me invaluable lessons and brought me to the place where I stand at this time.

Remember my precious gift?  Well, when I announced her coming into our lives and received “not-so-loving” comments or advice from some people close to me I was crushed.  I thought back to all my former convictions: true love waits, my desire to be a nun in college, and talks I heard growing up about “saving that special locket”, which symbolizes me giving myself to my husband on our wedding night and I felt defeated.  In that moment of defeat I realized why some women choose to abort a child because people treat you awful even those that claim to be “trying to help” by quoting the Catechism or telling you a Justice of the Peace wedding is not acceptable.

I am here to say that true love did wait and it just wasn’t picture perfect in the eyes of the Church or certain people.  That is okay with me because I still love many things about the Church and the people that didn’t support me in the way I needed to be supported are in my prayers.  It has taken me many years to rediscover who I am as a woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend, but I am worth the wait.  My story is important and each of us must go out and share our own even if it only helps one person realize they are good and loved today…DO IT!

Life is Precious. Life is a Gift.

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This is my Gift.

-Leah lives in North Texas with her husband and three children, but will always consider herself a Northwest Girl at Heart! Leah enjoys teaching Kindergarten, training Teachers to help Students with Handwriting, and tutors anyone who wants to learn Spanish and/or Handwriting.